Colorado point guard Jaylyn Sherrod went into last weekend with the simple goal of helping the Buffaloes win a couple of basketball games.
In the process, she elevated her game and helped lift the Buffs onto the national stage.
On Monday, the Buffs moved into the Associated Press Top 25 rankings, at No. 22, and Sherrod was recognized as the Pac-12 women’s basketball player of the week.
At 13-0 (2-0 Pac-12), CU is the only remaining undefeated team in the country. The Buffs were briefly in the rankings, at No. 25, on Dec. 6, but fell out the next week and had been knocking on the door since.
A pair of wins against Pac-12 foes Southern California and UCLA last weekend put them back in the rankings. CU was also named as ESPN’s women’s basketball team of the week on Monday.
“We are honored to be considered one of the top 25 teams in the country and believe that the depth and intensity of our work has given us this opportunity,” CU head coach JR Payne said. “We also understand that it takes even more work to stay there so we are excited to keep getting better with a full week of practice ahead of us.”
On Friday night, the Buffs will host No. 2 Stanford (11-3, 2-0). The Cardinal are the defending national champions but lost in their last visit to Boulder, 77-72 in overtime on Jan. 17, 2021. Stanford was No. 1 at the time.
Friday’s game will mark the first matchup of AP Top 25 teams in Boulder since No. 4 Stanford knocked off No. 17 Colorado on Jan. 12, 2014.
Sherrod played a critical role in last year’s upset of Stanford and is now coming off perhaps the best weekend of her career. She averaged 20.0 points, 8.0 assists and 3.5 rebounds in the two wins. She also had just two turnovers in the two games.
“I am proud of Jay,” Payne said. “Not just for earning player of the week, but for being a great example of who we are. She is tough, fearless and a truly great teammate. Very happy that she earned this recognition in the Conference of Champions.”
Sherrod earned player of the week honors for the first time and it’s just the sixth time a CU player as earned that honor in the Buffs’ 11 seasons in the conference.
The junior point guard had 15 points and eight assists in Friday’s 71-58 win against USC. On Sunday, she had a career-high 25 points, along with eight assists, in a 71-63 win against UCLA.
Prior to last weekend, Sherrod had not had more than six assists in a game since Feb. 14, 2020. This is the first time in her career she’s had eight in back-to-back games.
“The assists mean a lot,” she said after Sunday’s game. “I think I’ve always been more so a pass-first type of point guard anyway, and I always love setting up my teammates. It’s always nice to get a good pass. I have a lot of good pieces around me, so you have to feed them and you have to recognize their strength and just put them in the best position to score. So I think that’s just really what the game plan is and that’s just the importance of, I guess, this team in general just sharing the ball with one another.”
Throughout the season, Sherrod has dramatically improved her assist-to-turnover ratio. During her first two seasons, she had a 1.38 ratio (189 assists, 137 turnovers). This season, she ranks second nationally, with a 3.56 ratio (57 assists, 16 turnovers).
Sherrod’s award-winning weekend was also boosted by her newfound success at the free throw line.
Through the first 11 games, Sherrod struggled mightily at the line, going 15-for-35 (42.9%). In the two games last weekend, she was 18-for-23 (78.3%). She had career highs in free throws made (13) and attempted (17) on Sunday.
“Honestly it’s just about locking in and just following everything I practice,” she said. “I work on free throws every day. I stay after practice or come before practice, and I think it’s just the hard work paying off at the end. I think it just shows on resiliency because I mean, I was struggling. You could see the frustration in the beginning of the season, but now it’s more so just follow what you’ve been doing and trust in it and keep pushing.”
Sherrod and the Buffs will keep pushing as they look to build off the success they’ve had to this point.
CU freshman Kindyll Wetta is tied for 11th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.93 (41 assists, 14 turnovers). … At No. 22, CU has its highest ranking since being at No. 20 for the Dec. 26, 2016, poll.